A dried out section of Lake Oroville, California. As the severe drought in California continues for a third straight year, water levels in the State’s lakes and reservoirs is reaching historic lows. Lake Oroville is currently at 32 percent of its total 3,537,577 acres. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (via Pictures of the day: 20 August 2014 - Telegraph)
Today, on a remote stretch of the Elwha River in northwestern Washington state, a demolition crew hired by the National Park Service plans to detonate a battery of explosives within the remaining section of the Glines Canyon Dam. If all goes well, the blasts will destroy the last 30 feet of the 210-foot-high dam and will signal the culmination of the largest dam-removal project in the world.
In Asia, Africa, and South America, large hydroelectric dams are still being built, as they once were in the United States, to power economic development, with the added argument now that the electricity they provide is free of greenhouse gas emissions. But while the U.S. still benefits from the large dams it built in the 20th century, there’s a growing recognition that in some cases, at least, dambuilding went too far—and the Elwha River is a symbol of that.
The removal of the Glines Canyon Dam and the Elwha Dam, a smaller downstream dam, began in late 2011. Three years later, salmon are migrating past the former dam sites, trees and shrubs are sprouting in the drained reservoir beds, and sediment once trapped behind the dams is rebuilding beaches at the Elwha’s outlet to the sea. For many, the recovery is the realization of what once seemed a far-fetched fantasy.
"Thirty years ago, when I was in law school in the Pacific Northwest, removing the dams from the Elwha River was seen as a crazy, wild-eyed idea," says Bob Irvin, president and CEO of the conservation group American Rivers. "Now dam removal is an accepted way to restore a river. It’s become a mainstream idea."
Blue-cheeked Jacamar - Galbula cyanicollis
Also referred to as Blue-necked Jacamar, Galbula cyanicollis (Piciformes - Galbulidae) is considered a species complex found across southern Amazonia, from eastern Peru and parts of Bolivia to east Amazonian Brazil.
This species can be easily distinguished by the yellow lower mandible and the bluish head and neck sides.
Photo credit: ©Ciro Albano | Locality: Brazil (2013)